Kerri Sullivan-Kreiss, CFP®, AIF®, based her impartial advisory agency, SullivanKreiss Monetary, in 2004. Having spent the earlier 13 years as an advisor on employees with a publicly traded firm, she needed to depart huge company agendas and proprietary funding merchandise behind. As president of her personal enterprise, Sullivan-Kreiss was desperate to develop a concierge service mannequin constructed round a robust tradition of fiduciary duty to purchasers.
As Sullivan-Kreiss says, “I’ve at all times primarily based my enterprise on the elemental principal of treating others as I wish to be handled. My goal is actually quite simple: to place our purchasers’ pursuits first, act with integrity, and embrace the individuality that every consumer brings to our follow.”
Throughout our conversations, the drive of Sullivan-Kreiss’s dedication to this imaginative and prescient at all times shined by means of. The profitable progress of her agency could possibly be seen as emblematic of the depth with which Sullivan-Kreiss engages with purchasers. It additionally highlights her extremely environment friendly use of time. To supply the personalised concierge service that Sullivan-Kreiss believes makes her agency particular, she has develop into a grasp of time administration. She has discovered find out how to function effectively and collect the mandatory assets to maintain progress and construct economies of scale.
If you happen to’re seeking to go impartial or develop a longtime advisory enterprise, understanding the ability of Sullivan-Kreiss’s enterprise selections might enable you to chart the best way towards optimizing your time and setting your agency up for long-term progress.
Constructing One thing Particular
For Sullivan-Kreiss, constructing consumer relationships is all about specializing in the journey with every particular person you serve. So as to develop a top quality follow, you must make every consumer really feel particular. Which will sound elementary, however it’s necessary to maintain high of thoughts. As she says, “It’s being there for purchasers by means of on a regular basis moments, celebrating life’s main milestones, and serving to to supply help, encouragement, and, hopefully, consolation throughout tough instances.”
A proactive service mannequin. Ideally, SullivanKreiss Monetary purchasers shouldn’t get voicemail after they name, and follow-up to requests and considerations have to be speedy and correct. However concierge service is greater than that: it’s being proactive versus responsive, going above and past what’s anticipated. Sullivan-Kreiss focuses on long-term, complete monetary planning; she isn’t interested by “merely being a cash supervisor.” This implies setting common critiques to maintain abreast of modifications in purchasers’ lives and assembly each two weeks when creating a plan for a brand new consumer.
The consequence? Sullivan-Kreiss has constructed one thing particular: a extremely engaged group of long-term purchasers. For her, that’s what makes the advisory enterprise rewarding and enjoyable. And there’s icing on the cake: in response to Sullivan-Kreiss, “Nearly all of my agency’s new purchasers come from referrals from present purchasers.”
Spending Extra Time with Purchasers
As you possibly can see, Sullivan-Kreiss’s enterprise mannequin is straight tied to her spending as a lot time as attainable with purchasers. Notably, like lots of her Commonwealth friends, Sullivan-Kreiss spends considerably extra time in consumer conferences than different business advisors. That’s in response to a 2020–2021 examine carried out by Commonwealth in partnership with Cerulli Associates, which discovered that, on common, Commonwealth advisors spend 33 p.c extra time in consumer conferences than different advisors from each wirehouse and impartial corporations.
Actually, primarily based on additional evaluation of the info, Commonwealth’s Follow Administration staff decided that Sullivan-Kreiss ranked within the high decile of productiveness amongst Commonwealth advisors, primarily based on gross income, progress fee, and period of time spent with purchasers. This statistic speaks to the necessary work Sullivan-Kreiss undertakes day in and day trip with the people she serves.
Reaching Scale and Effectivity
So, how is Sullivan-Kreiss in a position to spend a lot time with purchasers? There are inherent difficulties in scaling a concierge mannequin. Nonetheless, as she labored by means of fixing them, Sullivan-Kreiss discovered that having the fitting employees and agency accomplice might help facilitate enterprise scale and effectivity.
The facility of your individuals. Sullivan-Kreiss delegates administrative, operational, and sure planning duties so she will concentrate on client-facing work. With three full-time employees members (a director of consumer relations, a monetary analyst, and an operations supervisor), she is evident on their significance to her enterprise mannequin: “My staff is phenomenal. What they do behind the scenes allows me to be good at my job and spend as a lot time as I can with my purchasers. Their strengths permit the agency to ship top-tier concierge-level help—the personalized effect we commit to every consumer.”
In keeping with Sullivan-Kreiss, her regular progress has been pushed by her staff’s steadiness of competencies. And that progress has introduced the agency to an inflection level, the place further employees is important. To deal with the amount of labor and preserve her productiveness excessive, Sullivan-Kreiss plans so as to add an funding supervisor and a further advisor to the staff.
When requested about recommendation for advisors seeking to develop, she states, “Probably the most productive issues you are able to do is empower your individuals and provides them room to develop. It’s completely key to have the fitting individuals on employees, significantly those that have complementary expertise units to yours.”
The impression of your agency accomplice. Sullivan-Kreiss remembers her agency’s early years flying by in a blur, however she has at all times acknowledged the significance of a supportive agency accomplice. She explains, “Along with actually busting your derriere . . . you must domesticate the fitting relationships with the fitting individuals. It’s worthwhile to have a accomplice behind you that’s proactive and responsive.”
Like different impartial advisors, Sullivan-Kreiss seems to her agency accomplice for a big selection of back-office assets and help. As a result of her work is grounded in monetary planning, she appreciates having specialists, reminiscent of Commonwealth’s Superior Planning staff, available to speak by means of a fancy planning or retirement downside.
As for funding administration, Sullivan-Kreiss acknowledges that this function is an ongoing problem for any impartial agency. She prefers customized portfolio administration and, with the help of her monetary analyst, does an excessive amount of her personal funding analysis. Nonetheless, if a consumer is searching for a particular funding technique, she desires to have the ability to depend on her agency accomplice for specialised data. She receives that help from Commonwealth’s Funding Administration and Analysis staff.
Finally, Sullivan-Kreiss says that your agency accomplice should have the ability to present a “phenomenal degree of help” that’s tailor-made to your wants.
Cementing the Cornerstones of Success
Being an impartial advisor has allowed Sullivan-Kreiss to fully align her agency along with her values and purchasers’ finest pursuits. She’s been in a position to construct the agency she’s at all times dreamed
of, one primarily based on placing her purchasers’ wants first and powered by environment friendly time administration. Proper now, she’s centered on the fun of the current and accelerating much more progress sooner or later. Something is feasible along with her imaginative and prescient, a robust staff, and Commonwealth’s partnership at her again.
If you happen to’re an advisor desirous to go impartial, Sullivan-Kreiss’s recommendation is to do it as quickly as you possibly can. As for contemplating a agency accomplice, be thorough about due diligence and align with a agency whose values mirror yours. Final, however definitely not least, at all times needless to say you wish to go the place you possibly can develop, even when it’s one step at a time.
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